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College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
College of Science


Biochem student in labwww.biochem.vt.edu/

P.J. Kennelly, Head
Professors: J.S. Chen; D. R. Dean; P. J. Kennelly; T. J. Larson; W. E. Newton;
M. Potts
Associate Professors: D. R. Bevan; G.E. Gillaspy; E. M. Gregory;
R. F. Helm; J. Li; T. O.Sitz; R. H. White; Z. Tu
Assistant Professors: E.L. Dolan; J. Zhu
Adjunct Faculty: D. F. Berry; J. E. Mahaney; P. Mendes; H. P. Misra; B. Mukhopadhyay; D. T. Zallen
Career Advisor: P. J. Kennelly (231-6315), pjkennel@vt.edu
Undergraduate Coordinator: T. O. Sitz (231-6315), tositz@vt.edu


    The bachelor of science in biochemistry is designed to provide students with a thorough foundation in chemistry and biology and an appreciation of how these sciences are integrated. The plan of study prepares students for careers in medicine, veterinary medicine, biomedical research, agriculture, industrial biochemistry, or biotechnology. In addition, it provides the background for post-graduate studies in the life sciences or professional studies in medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and clinical chemistry.

    Two undergraduate programs are administered by the department, one in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the other in the College of Science. Biochemistry majors complete the core curriculum requirements unique to the college in which they are enrolled.

    The departmental requirements for majors in either college are: mathematics (9-12 credits); physics (8 credits); principles of biology (8 credits); genetics (3 credits); general microbiology (4 credits); general chemistry (8 credits); organic chemistry (8 credits); physical chemistry (6 credits); analytical chemistry (4 credits); introduction to biochemistry (1 credit); organic biochemistry (1 credit); general biochemistry (7 credits); and laboratory problems in biochemistry and molecular biology (6 credits).

    To qualify for a major in biochemistry, the department requires that students maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average (GPA) for the hours passed in all required biochemistry, biology, and chemistry courses. In addition, the department requires that a student earn a C- or better in all required biochemistry, chemistry, and biology courses.

    The plan of study allows time for qualified students to participate in undergraduate research (BCHM 4994). Qualified students are strongly encouraged to initiate research activity prior to their senior year. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is required for enrollment in BCHM 4994. Students participating in undergraduate research are encouraged to present a senior thesis.

    Upper-division students who qualify for the Honors Program may participate in the "in honors" degree program in biochemistry. The Honors Program and undergraduate research program include study and research with individual faculty members.

    Biochemistry majors may participate in the Cooperative Education Program that alternates academic study with employment experience. Additional information pertaining to the CO-OP program is included in the "General Information" section of this catalog. Summer internships with various businesses and governmental agencies are frequently available, particularly to rising seniors.

Biotechnology Option

    Biotechnology is the application of fundamental biochemical and molecular biological approaches to problems in agriculture, medicine, and environmental sciences. The faculty in biochemistry and in several other science departments has developed an interdisciplinary option for undergraduates. To complete the option, Biochemistry majors must also take BCHM 4784 (Biotechnology Applications) and will graduate with a degree in biochemistry with an option in biotechnology. The option will introduce information, concepts, and techniques that are shaping the future of science and our society.

    The department also offers graduate programs leading to the M.S. and Ph.D.

    The minimum number of credits required for the B.S. in Biochemistry is 120.


    The department supports students' interest in bioinformatics/genomics by providing instruction and laboratory experience in those areas. Students are advised of appropriate supporting courses in computer science that may be used toward a minor in Computer Science.


Suggested Schedule for Biochemistry Majors

First Year
First Semester (15)
BCHM 1014: Introduction to Biochemistry1 1
CHEM 1055: General Chemistry for Majors1,5 3
CHEM 1045: General Chemistry Lab1 1
ENGL 1105: Freshman English 3
BIOL 1105: Principles of Biology1 3
BIOL 1115: Principles of Biology Lab1 1
MATH 1015: Elementary Calculus2 3
Second Semester (14)
CHEM 1056: General Chemistry for Majors1,5 3
CHEM 1046: General Chemistry Lab1 1
ENGL 1106: Freshman English 3
BIOL 1106: Principles of Biology1 3
BIOL 1116: Principles of Biology Lab1 1
MATH 1016: Elementary Calculus2 3
Second Year
First Semester (15)
CHEM 2565: Principles of Organic Chemistry1,5 3
CHEM 2545: Organic Chemistry Lab1 1
PHYS 2205: General Physics1 3
PHYS 2215: General Physics Lab1 1
MATH 2015: Elementary Calculus2 3
BIOL 2604: General Microbiology1 3
BIOL 2614: General Microbiology Lab1 1
Second Semester (15)
BCHM 2144: Organic Biochemistry1 1
CHEM 2566: Principles of Organic Chemistry1,5 3
CHEM 2546: Organic Chemistry Lab1 1
PHYS 2206: General Physics1 3
PHYS 2216: General Physics Lab1 1
STAT 3615: Biological Statistics2 3
Electives3 3
Third Year
First Semester (15)
BIOL 2004: Introductory Genetics1 3
BCHM 4115: General Biochemistry1 4
CHEM 3114: Analytical Chemistry for Life Sciences1 3
CHEM 3124: Analytical Chemistry for Life Sciences Lab1 1
Electives3 4
Second Semester (16)
BCHM 4116: General Biochemistry1 3
BCHM 4124: Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology1, 4 6
Electives3 7
Fourth Year
First Semester (15)
CHEM 4615: Phys. Chem. for the Life Sciences1 3
Electives3 12
Second Semester (15)
CHEM 4616: Phys. Chem. for the Life Sciences1 3
Electives3 12
1 Required course in department major.
2 The departmental mathematics requirement may be satisfied by taking Math 1015-1016 and 2015 (Elementary Calculus with Trigonometry I & II) and one of the following: Math 2016 or Math 2514 (Elementary Differential Equations), or Stat 3615 (Biological Statistics); or Math 1205-1206 (Calculus) and either Math 2514 or Stat 3615.
3 Electives must include college and Curriculum for Liberal Education (a.k.a. University Core) requirements.
4 Enrollment requires "C-" or better in BCHM 4115.
5 Will also accept: CHEM 1035–1036 and CHEM 2535–2536.

Progress Toward Degree

    The following required courses should be completed by the end of the spring semester of the junior year for satisfactory progress toward a bachelor's degree for biochemistry majors in both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the College of Science.

    BIOL 1105, 1106: Principles of Biology; BIOL 1115, 1116: Principles of Biology Lab; BIOL 2604: General Microbiology; BIOL 2614: General Microbiology Lab; BIOL 2004: Introductory Genetics; BCHM 2144: Organic Biochemistry; CHEM 1055, 1056: General Chemistry for Majors; CHEM 1045, 1046: General Chemistry Lab; CHEM 2565, 2566 or 2535, 2536: Principles of Organic Chemistry; CHEM 2565, 2566: Organic Chemistry Lab; PHYS 2205, 2206: General Physics; PHYS 2215, 2216: General Physics Lab.

Requirements for Minor in Biochemistry

CHEM 3114, 3124: Analytical Chemistry for Life Sciences* 4
CHEM 2535-2536: Organic Chemistry or CHEM 2565-2566 Organic Chem. for Majors 3, 3
CHEM 2545-2546: Organic Chemistry Laboratory 1, 1
BCHM 4115-4116: General Biochemistry 4, 3
BCHM 4124: Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 6
or BCHM 3124: Biochemical Techniques for Biotechnology and the Life Sciences 3
* May substitute CHEM 2114, 2124 4

    To qualify for a minor in biochemistry, the department requires that the student maintain a minimum 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) for the hours passed in all required biochemistry and chemistry courses. Furthermore, the department requires that a student earn a C- or better in the following courses: BCHM 4115-4116 (General Biochemistry), BCHM 4124 (Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) or BCHM 3124 (Biochemical Techniques for Biotechnology and the Life Sciences), and Chem 2535-2536 (Organic Chemistry).

Undergraduate Course Descriptions (BCHM)

Courses (BCHM)
History and evolution of biochemistry; applications of biochemistry in agricultural and life science disciplines; topical research areas in biochemistry; educational requirements and career opportunities for biochemistry majors. Pass/Fail only. (1H,1C) I.

Short course in fundamentals of the chemistry of living systems. Introduction to major categories of biochemical substances, metabolic pathways, and principles of biochemical information transfer. (No credit for majors). Pre: CHEM 2514 or CHEM 2535. (3H,3C) II.

Organic chemistry of the fundamental structures and reactions encountered in biological chemistry. Chemical description of carbohydrates, amino acids, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Discussion of organic chemical reactions that describe the majority of reactions encountered in biological chemistry. Pre: CHEM 2535 or CHEM 2565. Co: CHEM 2536, CHEM 2566. (1H,1C) II.

Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.

Survey presentation of the basic principles of biochemistry as they apply to biotechnology. Topics covered include protein structure, enzymology, cellular organization, and biochemical regulation. Special emphasis will be given to gene structure, transcription, and translation, cellular organization, and cloning, sequencing, modification and expression of recombinant DNA. Examples will be given of agricultural/medical/industrial applications of cellular and molecular biochemical knowledge. Non-majors only. Pre: CHEM 2536. (3H,3C) I.

Survey of basic biochemical laboratory techniques for students interested in biotechnology, genetic engineering, and the modern life sciences. Topics include the use of buffers, spectroscopy, enzyme assays, chromatography, electrophoresis, and immunoassays in the analysis of biological macromolecules. (Non-majors only). Co: 3114. (2H,3L,3C) I.

Health effects associated with the exposure to chemicals, identifying and managing problems of chemical exposure in work places and the environment, fundamental principles of biopharmaceutics and toxicokinetics, and risk assessment. Emphasis on conceptual understanding of chemical entry into the body, biotransformation, multiple chemical sensitivity, and chemically induced diseases. Identification of nutrient interactions with environmentally induced disorders and to understand the mechanisms of such interactions and their influence on human health and welfare. Pre: BIOL 2104 or BIOL 3124, ALS 2304, BIOL 2406 or BCHM 3114 or BCHM 4115, BCHM 4116. (3H,3C)

4054 (APSC 4054): GENOMICS
A contemporary analysis of the development, utility and application of high-resolution methods for the study and manipulation of the complete genomes of organisms. The use of new techniques for genomic, metabolic and protein engineering (functional genomics), including high-throughput methods and nanotechnology, will be emphasized. Pre: 4116 or BIOL 3774. (3H,3C) II.

Examination of various career opportunities for biochemists in industry, academia, medicine and related health sciences. Introduction to resources for locating career opportunities, resume preparation and interview skills. Restricted to biochemistry majors and minors. Junior standing required. Pass/Fail only. Co: 4115. (1H,1C) I.

Metabolism and chemistry of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids with emphasis on interactions and comparative aspects of microbial, plant, and animal forms. For students in the biochemistry curriculum and other students interested in a foundation course. (Students are required to have at least a C- in both Chem 2535 and 2536 to be admitted to BCHM 4115). Pre: CHEM 2536. 4115: (4H,4C) 4116: (3H,3C) I,II.

Presentation of major analytical techniques of importance to biochemistry and molecular biology, including spectrophotometry, electrophoresis, chromatography, and use of radioisotopes. Lab study of selected principles and methods used in biochemistry and molecular biology. Pre: 4115, (CHEM 2114, CHEM 2124) or (CHEM 3114, CHEM 3124). Co: 4116. (3H,9L,6C) I,II.

Presentation of the applications of modern spectroscopic methods, including UV-visible, fluorescence, NMR, ESR, CD/ORD, and mass spectrometry, to biochemical analysis. Selected instruments and their uses will be demonstrated. Pre: 4116, CHEM 4524. (3H,3C) II.

Variable credit course.

Covers medical, agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology and their ethical, legal and social implications. Includes the commercial exploitation of microbes, plants, and animals, plus safety of the food supply, conservation genetics, use in forensic science, patent laws, and the regulations governing biotechnology in the U.S. and overseas. Does not count as Biology elective for biology majors/minors. Pre: (3114, 3124, BIOL 3774, BIOL 4774) or (BCHM 4116, BCHM 4124). (3H,3C) II.

Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.


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Virginia Tech 2006-2007 Undergraduate Course Catalog and Academic Policies